The coverage you have depends upon the type of policy you have. Unlike auto insurance, where the policies are pretty much the same, homeowners policies can be quite different, depending on the "form" number. The most common types of homeowner policies are:
- HO1 Basic or Standard policy
- HO2 Broad form
- HO3 Special (also called Deluxe, All Risk)
- HO4 Renters policy
- HO6 Condo policy
- HO8 Older Home policy
All homeowner policies are "package" policies. You get a group of coverages packaged into your policy for one overall premium. They include coverage on your building, your contents (furniture, clothing, etc.) and liability insurance in case you are sued, under the same policy. The property coverage is shown under Section 1, while the liability coverage is described under Section 2.
There is no better way to understand your homeowner policy than to read it! We suggest you pull out your policy and find the parts to your policy that correspond to the following explanations:
A typical policy consists of three things:
- The Declarations Page - declares who, what and how much you are insuring, along with the date your coverage starts and the premium.
- The Policy Booklet - printed pages that contain the details of coverages and exclusions.
- Endorsements - separate pages, usually with endorsement numbers, that change (or endorse) specific parts of the policy.
Sometimes you are only given the original policy once in the beginning. Then on renewal, to cut down expenses, you are just sent the dec. page (declaration page) with the bill. It's a good idea to save the original policies should you ever need to refer to them.
More Detailed Information
The HO1 policy is very limited in coverage and is not being sold by most companies.
The HO2 policy covers the basic perils of fire, lightning, explosion, smoke, hail, aircraft, riot, glass breakage, theft and damage caused by vehicles. It also adds additional coverage to broaden your policy. Those perils include damage caused by rupture of your water or heating pipes, falling objects (such as trees), collapse of the building, limited electrical damage to appliances and others.
The HO3 policy is, by far, the most commonly sold policy. It covers everything the HO2 policy covers and more. Instead of listing the perils that are covered these policies cover all damage to the building except what is excluded. The usual exclusions are: wear and tear, termites, rotting, collapse of septic tank, flood, war, earthquake and a few others. Some HO3 policies are referred to as "Deluxe" , "Special" , "All Risk" policies depending upon the company.
Most policies cover your contents or belongings only for the perils named in an HO2 policy so wear and tear and normal breakage is not covered for your furniture and personal belongings.
Be careful! To keep the cost of insurance down, your policy probably has limited coverage on certain items. Typical limits include:
- Cash - $200
- Jewelry - $1,000
- Firearms - $2,500
- Silverware - $2,500
Check your policy carefully. If you see you don't have enough coverage, find out how much it would cost to increase those limits or to buy special coverage.
In addition to special coverage for jewelry, silverware and furs, you can purchase specific coverage for such possessions as stamp or coin collections, fine arts, camera equipment, collectibles, watercraft and musical instruments, just to name a few.